BJP-JDU Rift: RJD, Congress Ready To 'Embrace' Nitish Kumar but on One Condition

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has called a meeting of all JD(U) MPs and MLAs in Patna on Tuesday, 9 August.

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With political turmoil brewing in Bihar, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) national vice president Shivanand Tiwary on Monday, 8 August, said that the party was ready to "embrace" Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his Janata Dal (United) if he broke ranks with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

This comes after former Union minister RCP Singh resigned from the JD(U), hinting at a split between the National Democratic Alliance ally and the BJP.

A day after the state's Chief Minister Nitish Kumar stayed away from Sunday's NITI Aayog meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he called a meeting of all JD(U) MPs and MLAs in Patna on Tuesday, 9 August.

Meanwhile, RJD MPs and MLAs have been asked to gather in Patna as well on Tuesday.

Going a step further, the Congress convened a meeting of its legislature party in Bihar on Monday and said that it would "welcome" CM Kumar into the Opposition camp if he chose to snap ties with the BJP.


Bihar Congress chief Madan Mohan Jha said that the party's decision will be taken by the "party high command," news agency ANI reported.

"MLAs have arrived and will stay in Patna at least till 10 August. We are already in an alliance with the RJD and are yet to speak to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar," Jha added.

As per media reports, for most JD(U) MLAs, a split with the BJP and a subsequent tie-up with the RJD, Congress, and the Left Front is preferable over mid-term elections, fuelling further speculations.

On Monday, RJD MP Manoj Kumar Jha said, "We are the single largest party in Bihar. We can't see elements of instability in the state."

Stating that it is premature to talk about the RJD-JD(U) alliance, Jha added, "Bihar will decide what is best for it."

What Has the Congress Said?

AICC secretary Shakil Ahmed Khan, who is also an MLA, said the meeting would be held at the residence of Congress legislature party leader Ajeet Sharma and is likely to be attended by the party's in-charge of Bihar, Bhakt Charan Das, who is scheduled to reach Patna in the evening.

Khan said, "We always believe that parties with similar ideologies should come together. If the CM's JD(U), which believes in socialist ideology, quits BJP we will definitely welcome it. But these are early days. We will discuss the unfolding situation at the meeting in the evening."

When asked whether the Congress would back Kumar or RJD's Tejashwi Yadav for the chief minister's post, Khan said, "That is a premature question. First, let Nitish Kumar officially announce that his tie-up with the BJP is over."


Skipped Meetings

Kumar's absence from Sunday's Niti Aayog meeting, however, was not the first sign of his discontent with the Union government. In fact, this was the fourth such meeting that Kumar has skipped.

  • On 17 July, Nitish Kumar did not attend a meeting of all chief ministers called by Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

  • On 22 July, Kumar skipped the farewell banquet hosted by Modi for outgoing President Ram Nath Kovind.

  • On 25 July, though he had backed Droupadi Murmu as president, he stayed away from the swearing-in ceremony too.

  • Sunday's meeting was the latest snub.

Meanwhile, former Union minister RCP Singh quit Kumar's JD(U) on Saturday, hours after he was asked for an explanation over allegations of corruption levelled by unidentified workers.

Singh, a former national president of the JD(U), who had to give up his Cabinet berth following denial of another Rajya Sabha term by the party, made the announcement at a press conference he convened at his paternal home in Nalanda district.

When asked whether he now intended to join the BJP, the JD(U)'s alliance partner, to which he has been accused of having grown too close, Singh said he had not yet made up his mind.


What Has the RJD Said?

RJD national vice president Shivanand Tiwary said on Monday that convening meetings of legislators by parties on Tuesday were a clear indication that the situation was extraordinary.

Tiwari said, "If Nitish chooses to dump NDA, what choice do we have except to embrace him (‘gale lagaenge'). RJD is committed to fighting the BJP. If the chief minister decides to join this fight, we will have to take him along."

He was also asked whether the RJD would be willing to forget the bitter episodes of the past, like Kumar's return to the NDA in 2017, citing allegations of corruption against Lalu Prasad and his family members, including his younger son and heir apparent Tejashwi Yadav, who was then his deputy.

To this, Tiwary replied:

"In politics, we cannot remain prisoners of the past. We socialists had started off opposing the Congress which was then in power. But even the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi was imposed invoking the Constitution."

"The BJP, which has now become a behemoth, seems out to destroy the Constitution. We have to respond to the challenges of the times," Tiwary said.


'Clear What the BJP Is Up To': JD(U) National President Lalan

Targeting the BJP through RCP Singh, JD(U) national president Rajiv Ranjan Singh, alias Lalan Singh, said on Monday that it was "clear what they (the BJP) are up to," NDTV reported.

Speaking about Singh's induction into the Cabinet, Lalan alleged that the BJP had said, "We agree only to your name."

Notably, on Sunday, Lalan Singh said that JD(U) would not join the Union Council of Ministers again, but rejected speculations of a rift with ally BJP asserting "all is well."

Lalan, seen as a frontrunner by some for a ministerial berth from the JD(U) after RCP Singh's resignation, clarified that the party was not willing to have any representative in the Union Council of Ministers.

The JD(U) leader also made light of RCP Singh's exit and said, "He may have left the party only yesterday. But for long his body was in the party and soul elsewhere." Lalan was hinting at Singh's proximity to the BJP.

Lalan stressed that the party's ties with the BJP were not under stress and cited the JD(U)'s support for NDA candidates in the recent elections for president and vice president as proof of the same.

Lalan, however, defended a statement he made last week blaming a "conspiracy" for the JD(U)'s poor show in the 2020 Assembly polls and reacting to BJP's promise of contesting the next Lok Sabha and Assembly elections under Nitish Kumar's leadership with a cryptic remark saying "who has seen tomorrow."

On being asked about the "conspiracy," he referred to the "Chirag model," an allusion to the then Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Chirag Paswan's rebellion, and claimed "the model was again at work, we will reveal more about it at a later stage."


'I Practise Politics of Positivity’: Chirag Paswan

Former LJP chief Chirag Paswan on Sunday hit back at Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's JD(U), which has accused him of its own debacle in the 2020 Assembly polls.

Paswan posted a series of tweets in response to allegation of "Chirag model at work" by JD(U) president Rajiv Ranjan Singh.

"I practise politics of positivity and do not represent any model. Those who had engineered infights are now themselves faced with internal strife. They would do well not look for causes out on the streets," Paswan tweeted.

The allusion was made to the rebellion by his uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras, which led to a split in the LJP founded by his late father Ram Vilas Paswan and turmoil in the JD(U), following former national president RCP Singh's resignation.

(With inputs from NDTV and ANI.)

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Topics:  Nitish Kumar   BJP   Congress 

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